Every month The YoungEntrepreneur places a young entrepreneur in the spotlights. The entrepreneur is interviewed to provide us with some insights about his or her company, the challenges faced, strategic goals made, and logistical issues to be dealt with.
The YoungEntrepreneur of this month is Alexander Nijdam, who, together with Bas van den Berg, runs DeVention. DeVention is a company aiming to come up with innovative and sustainable solutions against standby power, a.k.a. leaking electricity.
“At the TU in Delft, one teacher always talked about the enormous amounts of energy wasted by doorbells on standby-mode. My partner and I thought we could do something about this. So we did.” In April 2012 Bas van den Berg and Alexander Nijdam started their own company, named DeVention, and brought the innovative Solar Bell on the market. A doorbell that runs on solar power. It took approximately one year to design and manufacture the Solar Bell smoothly, but the result is there. The Solar Bell is sold all over the country.
The innovative company is strongly committed to sustainability and applies the 3P’s in its strategy; people, planet, and profit. The most important feature of the Solar Bell is that it runs on solar power which saves a lot of energy each year and contributes to a greener environment. Not only does DeVention care about the environment, it also cares about people. Alexander: “We have considered to outsource the product manufacturing to China which would have saved us a lot in costs. But that would also mean that we would lose a high degree of control over the product.” So instead they chose a more social option of outsourcing the manufacturing process by deploying a local social working community. Regarding the profit part of the 3P’s, the sustainability is aligned in the innovation and quality of the product.
When the product is ready to be sold, the customer comes to mind. DeVention has two types of selling channels. On the one hand the Solar Bell is sold directly to customers via the website and on the other hand DeVention sells businesses-to-business. For the latter option you can think of, among others, housing corporations starting a new project or retailers interested in selling the Solar Bell. When asked how the Solar Bell is distributed Alexander declared: “We have already thought about distribution when we were still in our desiDevgn process. The product is designed in a way that it exactly fits a postbox.” And that is exactly how the product is distributed: by post.
Suppliers are another piece of cake. How do you know for sure that you can trust them? According to Alexander you don’t, you just have to try and take the risk. For a complex part such as a printing circuit board they do have a local supplier to be able to visit and communicate easily when something is wrong. However, other kinds of materials are imported from China. The main reason for this is just that it saves an amount of money that’s worth taking the risk. And riskier it is. Not only because there is less control over the materials, but also delivery times are much longer and you don’t know if the supplier is truly reliable. “We did have some bad luck when we ordered many solar panels from China. When they arrived, the panels were in poor condition, they were all differently cut and not at all the quality we hoped for.” Luckily, they found a better, more trustworthy supplier later on. “It was worth taking the risk after all. As an entrepreneur I don’t think in problems, only in solutions”.
In the near future DeVention is thinking to outsource the product distribution too. Alexander and Bas want to focus solely on product development and work on new innovative ideas without having to worry about products having to be shipped. Yes, Alexander mentions that there already are one or even more new ideas they are currently working on. Unfortunately, he is not willing to reveal those ideas, but undoubtedly new and innovative products are on their way. So we’d better keep an eye out for them!